• publish: 2 September 2020
  • time: 11:25 am
  • category: Politics
  • No: 15168

In bid to clear peace talks hurdle, the government releases 200 Taliban prisoners

The Afghan government has resumed the prisoner release program after freeing 200 hardcore Taliban prisoners late Tuesday, which could help clear the way for intra-Afghan negotiations.

According to officials, 153 were released on Tuesday and 47 on Monday. 

This group is part of the batch of 320 prisoners that President Ashraf Ghani did not want to release based on the severity of their crimes. 

Officials described the 320 as hardcore and as having masterminded some of the most heinous attacks in Afghanistan, including Kabul, over the past few years. Others meanwhile are classified as drug kingpins. 

Sources speaking on anonymity have said the process could be finalized by Wednesday. 

Ghani’s refusal to release the 320 prisoners resulted in stalled intra-Afghan negotiations but this week indications point towards the possibility of talks starting in Doha this week. 

The news of the prisoner release meanwhile came after a phone call between Ghani and the United States’ National Security Advisor (NSA) Robert O’Brien on Monday night.

O’Brien discussed the need for intra-Afghan talks to start “without delay.”

The National Security Council said in a Twitter post that O’Brien had also reiterated US support for a “sovereign, democratic, and unified Afghanistan that never again serves as a source of international terrorism.”

“The US stands with the Afghan security forces who have made tremendous sacrifices for the Afghan people,” NSA tweeted.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Palace also said in a tweet that O’Brien told Ghani that the US would continue supporting the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces.

“The prisoner swap between the Taliban and the Afghan government was one of the issues that the two sides discussed on. Both sides emphasized the immediate start of intra-Afghan negotiations,” Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.

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